By Dr. Stephanie Janeczko, D.V.M., Medical Director for Animal Care & Control of New York City
There are several ways to make a previous scratching location (like the curtains or arm of the couch) unattractive to cats. Using plastic or Saran wrap on the surfaces can be quite effective, as can double-sided sticky tape. Other options include using sandpaper or a vinyl carpet runner (turned upside-down to expose the knobby feet) on furniture or on the floor where the cat would stand to scratch as cats hate the way this feels on their paws. You should strategically place your new scratching posts next to these unattractive areas to give your cat the chance to scratch an appropriate surface.
Punishing your cat for scratching is not a good idea for several reasons. He doesn’t understand why he is being punished and may associate bad things with you. You might hurt him. And it’s not very effective either, as most cats will simply learn to scratch when you’re not around rather than not at all.